Invite the girls over for a night of painting, quiche, and cocktails.
Credit: Beau Gustafson

Express yourself by becoming an artist, if only for one night. Set up an artists' studio in the living room to give your friends a few hours of creative expression. Thanks to a blank canvas for everyone, each piece of art is bound to be distinctly different.

The Set Up

For supplies for the night, pick up some canvases on frames, colorful paints and brushes of varying widths. Check out some art books from the library in case the painters need some inspiration. Fill a few glasses with water for dipping and washing brushes. Cover the dining room table with craft paper and set up the supplies in the center of the table. To be extra careful, cover the table with plastic before laying out the craft paper.

The Bar
Fill the bar with a palate of colors to inspire even the most timid of artists. With a rainbow of drinks to sip on, the brushstrokes are sure to follow. Set up the bar in the kitchen, far away from the paint. Make big batches of the drinks so even paint-stained hands can easily pour and refill. For a more subdued sipper, offer a bottle of wine as an alternative to the brightly colored cocktails.

The Food
Let the provisions inspire with a menu of filling and beautiful food. Make dinner easy for the artists in residence by serving food that can be eaten with utensils. This way, the paint doesn't even have to be washed off before digging in. Start the evening easily with an olive and cheese tray. With everyone painting, dinner may not all begin at one time, so set up a painter-friendly buffet and let your guests serve themselves when they're ready.

The Extras
Want to host a painting party without breaking the bank? Purchase small-to-medium sized canvases in bulk packages of five or ten instead of buying individual large canvases for everyone. The point of the party is to enjoy the company, not create a mural! Also, buy a single package of a variety of paints. Oil paints go a long way, so it'll be easy to share among your guests. Don't try to buy every color of paint; stick to the basic color wheel and encourage guests to mix it up a little to find the exact colors they're hunting.

The Party Plan

One Day Before

  • Chop fennel and section oranges for salad.
  • Make lemonade. Chill until serving.
  • Make cake.

The Morning Of

  • Make quiche. Refrigerate.

1 Hour Before

  • Mix wine and green food coloring for wine spritzers.
  • Arrange olive and cheese tray.

30 Minutes Before

  • Reheat quiche.

Before the Guests Arrive

  • Assemble salad.
  • Top wine spritzers with seltzer.
  • Assemble bellinis.

Rebecca Lang is a well-known cooking instructor, author, and food writer. She teaches Girls' Night In classes around the country and lives in Athens, Georgia.